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Vascular Risk Factors in Midlife May Increase Dementia Risk

Dementia occurs in the brain, but research suggests that ailments affecting other parts of the body may have an effect on the development of dementia. A recent study suggests that having vascular health risk factors, including diabetes, high blood pressure, and smoking, in middle age puts people at a higher risk of dementia later in life.

Participants in the study included 15,744 white or black people who took part in the Atherosclerosis Risk in Communities (ARIC) Study. All of the participants underwent a range of medical tests between 1987 and 1989, at which point they were between 45 and 64 years old. All the participants were examined four more times over the next 25 years. Those examinations included cognitive tests of memory and thinking in the second and fourth exams.

After examining the data from an average of 23 years of follow-up, the researchers found that 1,516 people were diagnosed with dementia. Both white and black people with diabetes, high blood pressure, or prehypertension were at a higher risk of dementia. They also found that smoking cigarettes increased the risk of a dementia in white participants, but not black ones.

Researchers from Johns Hopkins University conducted the study. It was published on August 7, 2017, in JAMA Neurology.

Dementia is increasingly common as the population ages. Previous studies suggest that taking a regular sauna, increasing folic acid intake, and increasing vitamin D intake may slow the onset of dementia.

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